All Book Reviews

The Hunters
Flanagan, John
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Hunters is a brilliant book written by John Flanagan. Hal and his Brotherband chase down Zavac through rough waters. The Herons know that Zavac is cornered, but beating him is going to be tricky. You have to read the rest to know what happens!

This book is packed with action and excitement. Another aspect that I love about this book is Hal’s courage. He shows massive amounts of courage through the story which makes his crew more faithful in him than ever. I would rate The Hunters 5 out of 5 stars. It was so good that I could not put it down. If you are interested in this book, I would recommend reading the whole series.

Reviewer's Name: Hayden S
Awards:
Chomp
Hiaasen, Carl
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Chomp is a book written by Carl Hiaasen. I would rate Chomp five out of five stars. In Chomp, Wahoo’s mom is on a trip working in China. The main character, Wahoo, and his dad, Mickey, get hired for a TV job. Their family is tight on money, and they are trying to pay off the mortgage of their house. While Wahoo’s mom is in China, he and his dad go on a rollercoaster of exciting events working for the show. It has a very exciting plot and swallowed me into the book. It is a funny tale about the love for animals. I enjoyed the character’s humor and how Wahoo reacted to tough problems. I loved this book and would recommend it to others. It is in a series, but it is a standalone book. I would recommend reading all of the other books in this fantastic series. The author is an amazing writer. That is why I would recommend Chomp to you.

Reviewer's Name: Hayden S
Venomous
Wilcox, Christie
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Explore the effects of many venoms and venomous animals from across the world and their interactions with humans from the stunningly potent bullet ant to the awesomely efficient komodo dragon in this nonfiction exploration of various creatures' venoms. The author does a commendable job of portraying dangerously venomous animals in ways to give them well earned respect andf fear, rather than just fear mongering. The book follows some of the author's experiences and the experiences of others to accurately show how the animals behave and how their venoms act in a personable method. The author also describes how the different venoms work in a scientific approach with her personal experiences with stings, providing multiple perspectives on the effects of certain venoms. Overall, I enjoyed how the author provided multiple perspectives of different animals and how she showed how dangerous some animals are while instilling respect for said animals. I would recommend this to anyone who has attended college level biology courses who want to study the venoms of certain animals due to the use of more advanced terminology.

Reviewer's Name: Gabriel P
Seven Brief Lessons on Physics
Rovelli, Carlo
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is an informative and very useful guide to several aspects of physics, ranging from relativity to the various theories surrounding the very fabric of our universe. Anyone reading this should, however, have some background information to basic physics as this book covers some basics surrounding more complex concepts of physics such as quanta and time. The author simplifies the concepts down and organizes them into seven lessons that become progressively more complex or confusing so I would suggest any potential readers to not skip around the book. I rather enjoy the progression of the book and how the author made the complex theories understandable to the average person who is interested in the more confusing concepts of physics. I would recomend this to anyone who wants to understand more about physics and get an small taste of the most complex ideas of physics.

Reviewer's Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Gabriel P
If I'm Being Honest
Wibberley, Emily Siegemund-Broka, Austin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I picked this book up from the library, not really knowing what to expect. I ended up falling in love with the book and I finished it up in a day. If I'm Being Honest, cowritten by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka, is a tale about a girl named Cameron who has it all. She's popular, pretty...but most importantly extremely honest to the point where she hurts people. The book begins when Cameron decides she wants to hook up with a boy named Andrew. She and Andrew have been friends for a really long time and for the past year she's realized she wants to step up their relationship a little.
However, when Andrew rejects Cameron because he sees her cruelty up close, Cameron decides she needs to prove to him that she's a good person. Next, Cameron makes a lost of people who she needs to make amends with, one being a boy named Brendan Rosenfeld. Cameron ruined Brendan's social status in sixth grade when she gave him a mean nickname. The more people she makes amends with, however, the more she realizes that she might not be doing it just for Andrew after a while.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Elizabeth P
Our Chemical Hearts
Sutherland, Krystal
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I bought the book Our Chemical Hearts a couple years ago, but it remained untouched on my shelf for a long time. This summer, however, when I realized I needed something new to read, I picked it up and wondered why I started it so late. Our Chemical Hearts, by Krystal Sutherland, is a love story with lots of drama and twists and turns. This book will fill you up and break your heart simultaneously. The main character of the book is named Henry Page.
Henry, a highschooler, has been single for pretty much his entire life. He's watched his friends go in and out of relationships, with the trend of every relationship ending in heartbreak. When a mysterious girl with a cane dressed head to toe in boy clothing transfers to Henry's school, he never imagined he'd fall for her. This girl's name is Grace and she has a sketchy past. As he gets to know her more, Henry wonders if they will work out together because she is just so very broken. This book is very beautifully written, deep, authentic, and would be great for fans of books like Eleanor and Park, Holding Up The Universe, or All the Bright Places.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Elizabeth P
Awards:
The Unexpected Everything
Matson, Morgan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Unexpected Everything, by author Morgan Matson, is a novel with an underlying that sometimes life doesn't go as planned, but that's okay; sometimes even the unexpected things are the best and most enjoyable things you ever experience. The main character of the Unexpected Everything is a girl named Andie. Her life has been pretty rough for the past years. With a father who is a congressman, she feels like she has to always put on a sort of "facade" and this is something that seems to be constricting for her.
Andie's mother, whom she loved dearly passed away a few years back from ovarian cancer and, even though it's been quite a while since her death, Andie still hasn't come to terms with this loss. Andie has some plans for this summer. She is going to take a premed course, as she hopes to find a career in medecine in the future. However, when her plans change, Andie is flustered and realizes that her vision of this summer has now fallen apart, and she has no choice but to make new plans. This book is fun, cute, and full of adventures as well as drama. I have now read all of Morgan Matson's books and love them! I'd recommend this novel to anyone who is into romcoms, adventures, or anyone who is looking for a fairly easy read. You won't be able to put this book down!

Reviewer's Name: Elizabeth P
Inside Out and Back Again
Lai, Thanhha
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Inside Out and Back Again is a historical drama all told in poems. A Vietnamese family is forced to flee their home in Saigon, Vietnam due to the outbreak of the Vietnam war. Luckily, they escape and flee to Alabama, however, Ha, the daughter in the family has trouble adjusting to the different lifestyle in the U.S. In, this book, you get a view into the life of Vietnamese refugees and their struggle to adjust to a new life, all in the form of poems. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a great story filled to the brim with poems.

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Kyle Y
Killer Cocktail
Kiely, Tracy
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In this story, Nic and Nigel, who are Hollywood celebrities found some clips from the set of A Winter’s Night. Which is a movie from 2 decades ago known because of the great story and the behind the scenes drama, including the death of a celebrity. But a burglary occurs, convincing the couple that there may be someone on those clips who doesn’t want to be seen. The book is filled with gossip about fictional stars who are always at each other's throats, and a dog who is also in on the fun. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a good mystery.

Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Kyle Y
Genres:
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Foer, Jonathan Safran
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close follows a nine-year-old boy named Oscar coming to terms with life after his father's death on 9/11. When looking through his dad's things, Oscar breaks a vase and finds a key and a mysterious envelope labeled "Black". He decides to embark on a mission to find every person named Black in New York City in an attempt to find the one Black who knew his father. Along the way, he meets new friends and discovers more about those he already knew. This book is written from the alternating perspectives of Oscar, his grandmother, and his mute grandfather whom Oscar has never met. This adds an interesting layer to the story, as Oscar lost a parent in 9/11 and his grandparents, both children at the time, lost their families in the bombing of Dresden. This shows a theme throughout this book that grief from war and terror is universal. This book's overall commentary on the human experience and grief, both individual and collectively experienced by a nation, shows the skill and thoughtfulness of the author. On a personal level, I did not find the characters particularly enticing and had a hard time following the plot at times, but I would still recommend the book, especially to someone with an interest in 9/11 or the world wars.

Reviewer's Name: McKenna R
The Help
Stockett, Kathryn
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Help is a novel set in Jackson, Mississippi during the early 1960's, written by Kathryn Stockett. The main character, Eugenia 'Skeeter'
Phelan, is a aspiring journalist who lives with her parents and has no intention of starting a family like all of her friends; what she really wants is to be a writer. She decides to take a big risk and interview the help--the African American women who work in the households of white families to make a living--and write about their experiences. Kathryn Stockett's novel follows the lives of three women: Skeeter and two African American women: Aibileen and Minnie. The Help is spectacularly written and very accurately depicts society during segregation. It will make readers laugh out loud, cry, and connect with the characters. The plot is unpredictable and enjoyable, told through several perspectives which creates the perfect character development.
I strongly recommend this book to all readers who enjoy historical fiction.

Reviewer's Name: Alexa H
Genres:
The Odyssey
Homer
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

The Odyssey is an epic poem written by Homer, and it is a literary classic about two great quests. Ten years after the fall of Troy, Odysseus still hasn't returned home to Ithaca, and his house is plagued with suitors wanting to marry his wife, Penelope. His son, Telemachus, feels overwhelmed but is sure that Odysseus isn't dead. With the help of the goddess Athena, he sets off to search for his father as the reader learns more about Odysseus's previous journey and resulting enslavement. Telemachus encounters many obstacles which shape him and build his confidence by the end of the story.
Although this book is a classic and was probably very popular in ancient Greece, it is not an enjoyable book to read. There is too much unnecessary dialogue, and the plot is excessively long. Due to the old language and lengthy descriptions, reading The Odyssey is a very strenuous task.

Reviewer's Name: Alexa H
Awards:
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Rowling, J.K.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

To all readers wondering what happens after Harry leaves Hogwarts, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child gives an interesting take on the idea. This is a play script, written by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany. It is about Harry's son, Albus--who is sorted into Slytherin--and his best friend, Scorpius Malfoy. In an effort to bring back someone from Harry's past, they travel through time and make some major mistakes--even bringing back the darkness that Harry vanquished. This book is about the bond between friends and family. Although it is creative and definitely makes an effort to continue the Harry Potter legacy, the story seemed forced the plot wasn't enjoyable.

Reviewer's Name: Alexa H
Genres:
To Kill a Mockingbird
Lee, Harper
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This is a story that beautifully represents society in a way few novels can. Set in Maycomb, Alabama in the early 1930's, it is told from the perspective of a 6-year-old girl, Scout, as she grows, plays, and gets into trouble with her older brother, Jem, and comedic friend, Dill. Scout's wise father, Atticus, must defend an innocent black man accused of rape; along the way Scout meets people and learns things that impact her life. Meanwhile, Scout, Jem, and Dill, are determined to learn more about their mysterious neighbor and the violent rumors that surround him--sometimes getting themselves into humorous situations--and learn something surprising. The book is spectacularly and wisely written, with characters readers will connect with, and themes that are important in all readers' lives: courage, empathy, and the power of standing up for what you believe in. Scout's sense of humor and insightful observations will make readers think and keep turning the pages for more.

Reviewer's Name: Alexa H
Stepsister
Donnelly, Jennifer
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I love well-done fairy-tale retellings and there has been a brash of good ones coming out lately. This one is wildly imaginative mash up of the fairy tale Cinderella. I loved this lush atmospheric feminine take on this classic story.

Beginning at the end of the tale we all know; Ella has just gone off with her prince to become the queen of France and start her beautiful life. And Isabelle and her sister Tavi are left behind with their harsh, overbearing mother. Having done the unthinkable and mutilated themselves for a chance at fortune and a good marriage, both Isabelle and her sister are all but shunned from the town they live in. Shortly after, a mysterious fire brings down their home and they are all left destitute. As a last resort the sisters turn to a difficult neighbor whom they barter with to allow them to stay in exchange for working on their farm. They lead a harsh life and though Isabelle wants to better herself, she soon loses all confidence in herself.

Called ugly by everyone around them Isabelle starts to believe it, until she meets a curious character who gives her the chance to change her story. Unbeknownst to her, two other forces, are also fighting for her fate, one for it the other against. Who will win? Only Isabelle can determine that.

This cleverly retold fairy tale brings a fresh take to a very old myth. It is a story of one girl’s journey of self-discovery but also a strong statement on one’s ability to determine their own course instead of following the path that society has laid out for them. Once she discovers she can control her own path, Isabelle’s intense desire to change and find redemption, coupled with her strong will, and feisty attitude develops her character in such a meaningful and real way. We all fight against stereotypes “she’s too fat” “he’s got a disability” “she’s ugly” etc.” If you’re not beautiful and perfect and an idealized version of what the world deems attractive or good, or beautiful, in other words if your different, the world will push back and fight against you. This beautiful tale reminds us that when the world pushes against you, you have the strength and the ability and the write to push back and fight against it.

Set against a backdrop of a classic story. With strong heroines, the added change of Fate and Chance as characters which I think is a awesome detail, beautiful worldbuilding and lush prose! This is feminism at its finest! Thank you to the publisher Scholastic Press and Edelweiss for my ARC for review!

Reviewer's Name: Tawnie
Best Family Ever
Kingsbury, Karen and Russell, Tyler
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Well-known author, Karen Kingsbury, has partnered with her son, Tyler Russell to write the first book in a children’s series about the Baxter children. While millions of adult readers have read the stories of the Baxter family, this chapter book tells the stories of the children’s growing up years. There is Brooke - the perfect oldest child, Kari – an amazing soccer player, Ashley – an aspiring artist who is free and uninhibited, Erin, and Luke. This is the story of their strong Christian faith and their family loyalty.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Genres:
My Journey to the Stars
Kelly, Scott
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This Biography Reader tells us the story of Scott Kelly, one of the two brothers that have flown in space for NASA. He tells stories of growing up and how problems and experiences in his youth prepared him for his travels into space. He tells us about his year at the International Space Station including how he lived and the work he did. Be prepared to be inspired to reach for your own dreams!

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Hive Book Cover
Lyga, Barry
2 stars = Meh
Review:

In the near future, an app called BLINQ tracks all social media usage and amalgamates posts from a number of platforms. On BLINQ, you can vote to condemn a person for their social media output – if a person’s condemns to likes ratio gets out of balance, they’ll find themself condemned in real life. For example, a person who ignominiously dumps their partner on Facebook might find themself getting physically dumped in the trash. The punishment is designed to fit the crime. Called the Hive, its something our lead Cassie loved to participate in – until all of a sudden, it wasn’t. After a racy tweet, Cassie finds herself the target of the Hive, but her punishment is more severe than all that have come before it: death.

This was a fast paced, enjoyable dystopia which was a good change of pace from my normal fare of fantasy. I think teens are going to love it. Aside from a few horrendous decisions, our lead Cassie is likable, smart (ostensibly, anyway) and her experiences navigating a new high school will resonate with teens. As Cassie spends most of the book running for her life, it will definitely appeal to thriller fans or those that need their books to be very plot based. I read the book in a day or two even though I had a good idea of how it was going to play out. Little attention is given to the supporting characters, though the book did also present a few chapters from Cassie’s mom’s perspective, which I loved. The authors did a great job portraying a somewhat fraught mother-daughter relationship. There’s though-provoking, if heavy handed, social commentary to be found as well, and I think this book will stick with some readers long after they've turned the last page.

Ultimately, though, the book had what I’m going to call the “Scythe” problem: the premise just wasn’t believable. The Hive was certainly believable – its basically a physical manifestation of the shame that we’re willing to dole out to strangers online (if you’d like a great non-fiction read on the topic, try So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson ). Did I for one second think that the first person to get the death penalty would be a teenage girl who tweeted something offensive? I did not. I had trouble getting over that.

TLDR: If you liked The Maze Runner, Divergent or yes, Scythe, you should definitely check out this thrilling dystopia.
Lots of teens will love this one, but it didn’t do it for me – 2 stars. It was ok.

Thanks to Netgalley and Kids Can Press for the eARC which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. The Hive will be released on 03 September but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
The Cozy Life
Edberg, Pia
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

It's so easy to get caught up in daily life and, in my case, neuroses. The Danish concept of hygge offers a way to enjoy the simple things by making an change to coziness. It's a conscious change and can be applied to all walks of life. Now I find myself asking if something is hygge throughout the day. I plan to use some of the suggestions, such as keeping a clean, cozy house, thinking more positive, and restarting my gratitude journal. Good book.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Messenger's Legacy
Brett, Peter V.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In a series that’s full of exposition and backstory, I found it a little odd that these extraneous details weren’t relegated to side-story novellas so the plot of the main series of books could focus on the current action. What’s even more curious is that Messenger’s Legacy, a side-story novella in this series, doesn’t explore anything new or interesting that hadn’t already been covered in the main books. The only new information I learned in this novella was slightly more detail about bog and swamp demons, which seems unnecessary with all things considered.

Following somewhat minor characters from The Warded Man (who haven’t appeared in the series since), Messenger’s Legacy shows it is easier to survive in demon-infested nights than the series initially indicated. While I’m not sure if any of these details will come into play in the main-line books, it does help expand the world-building just a little bit more than if this story hadn’t been included at all. As always, the demon-infused action is exciting and a strength of the author’s writing.

I’m sure there are much more interesting backstories and side-stories to tell in this series, so it’s curious that this one was written about at all. I’d much rather read about the original Deliverer or the society that crumbled away in the desert (leaving behind powerful wards in the process). Sure, there’s some personality explored in this story that helps pull the reader back to less god-like individuals and their struggles against the demons. However, with so many more interesting stories to tell, I’d suggest that anyone reading this series can skip this novella and not miss anything important.

A curious side-story that doesn’t add anything to the series, I give Messenger’s Legacy 2.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.

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